If the traveller cannot meet a wise person
to accompany them on the road,
let them continue alone,
for there is no companionship with a fool...
Dhammapada verse 61
Purity of the heart
One year, during my early days in Budha Gaya, I became friendly with a young German man. Even now I cannot remember his name, but it is not important because he was known to everyone throughout the town as 'that lucky German'. This nickname arrived because of an accident on the road to Kathmandu some weeks before we met.He was travelling on a full bus of Indian and Nepalese people when the bus careered off the narrow, winding road and plunged into a deep valley. Any of us who have made this journey know how dangerous these long roads to Nepal can be and so cannot be surprised to hear of accidents. The bus tumbled and turned until it finally came to a halt on its side. Many people died, but he survived. Some months later whilst taking the same route to Kathmandu, we passed this place on the road, and there was the bus of 'the lucky German,' lying on its side as witness to his story. He was pulled out of the crashed vehicle and taken to hospital in Kathmandu. Seeing his nationality on his passport the hospital staff knew him as a German man who had survived a terrible accident, hence the nickname. When he arrived in Budh Gaya some time later he came to learn meditation with me and we became travelling friends.
One day sitting in a local cafe he spoke to me. 'You know,' he began, 'every time we see you in the street you are accompanied by a beautiful woman.' I had not thought of this before, but it was true. My preconception of female travelers being strong, sturdy women in mountain boots and calf length trousers had been completely demolished, and I had met young, attractive women, independent and happily travelling alone in a strange land. I was a quite well known in Budh Gaya by this time and the small town itself was a very social place, so often I would be accompanied as I walked along the single road to the stupa or back to the Burmese Vihar. Of course, I was very happy to think that beautiful women were attracted to me and so I left the cafe with a slight ego based smile on my lips. Some time later I met 'the lucky German' again and he was excited to tell me that he now knew exactly why these young women were always happy to walk with me. 'It's because they feel safe with you,' he said smiling. At first this was not the reason I wanted to hear, but when the disappointment of not being likened to Robert Redford or some other handsome movie star of those days passed, I experienced an enormous joy in my heart. Is this how others really perceive me? That I want nothing from them and so they are safe with me? That they know I will not try to manipulate them or exploit them in some way? Without realising, after so many years of sitting and applying love and awareness to my life, the results could be experienced by others. The true manifestation of the loving Dhamma heart became apparent, with each aspect of every relationship based in integrity and love for all living beings. Not to exploit or manoeuvre, but to serve and support. It is said that true Dhamma practice is like walking in the mist or fog, and that slowly, slowly without realizing it, we become soaking wet. Our Dhamma heart and opens love becomes the gift in our life, first for ourselves and the for all beings. To be in a relationship, no matter how short lived, with someone who does not make demands on you is a great gift in your life. To be with someone who is not, even at a very subtle level, trying to manipulate you creates an environment of safely. In this environment you can find the space to be foolish and not be judged. Here you can be relaxed knowing that the other will not mock to humiliate you. This is the highest relationship in life, and when you struggle with your relationships it means only that you are not moving from this place. That this moment and this situation is conditional and you are making demands. Let go of that and all the difficulties just fall away. Even if others cannot do this for you, you are always able to do this for them. Simple, but not easy. To cultivate a life based on how everyone should or should not be can only be a life filled with frustration. Look at the world. Look at its diversity, and look how people struggle to control others so that they themselves can feel secure in their view of how things should be. Beings are the way they are, that is their choice. You are the way you are and that is your choice. Live with love and be aware and let all your demands on the universe for you to be happy be seen as the manipulative devices they really are. When this happens, happiness is already there. Pure Dhamma works in a beautiful and consistent way provided that we stay on the path. Slowly, slowly the fear we have always justified and explained falls away and we are left with a simple purity of being. If we let go a little there is a little peace. If we let go a lot, there is a lot of peace If we let go completely, complete peace.
This is the way of Dhamma.
May all beings be happy.
A monk entered the monastery and said to the master. “I am new here, please teach me.” The master replied, “have you eaten your breakfast?” “I have,” answered the monk. “Then wash your bowl,” finished the master.
That which we empower becomes our reality.
From The Reality of Kamma by Michael Kewley